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Huntington’s disease shown red card by North East referees

Swapping their black shirts for black ties Aberdeen and District Referees’ Association annual dinner this year showed the red card to a devastating neurological disease.

Around 100 northeast whistlers gathered at Pittodrie Stadium to raise more than £1600 for the Scottish Huntington’s Association at their annual get together. The charity is the only one in the country supporting families impacted by Huntington’s disease (HD), an incurable degenerative condition.

Former referee Alan Freeland, who is prominent within the association in the North East, and a member of the Scottish Football Association’s Referee Committee, has a family connection with HD with his wife Lorna having the condition.

Aberdeen President of the Referee’s Association Calum Spence said:

‘We pick a charity of the year every year and given Alan’s connection with HD and the fact he is such a big advocate, and following their successful ‘Kilt Walk’ fund raising efforts, we felt it would be fitting if the SHA was our pick this year. It is a misunderstood and still quite a secretive condition so we felt anything we could do to raise awareness about how it affects families across generations would be very worthwhile.’

SHA supports families living with the condition through its network of HD specialists; a world leading youth support team and its financial wellbeing service.

HD is a complex neurological condition with symptoms that typically begin to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. It causes three main groups of symptoms: changes to thinking processes – a type of early onset dementia, loss of muscle control and involuntary movements which lead to loss of speech and swallow along with mental illness. Those impacted by HD may eventually lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or make decisions and will eventually need 24 hour care. It is also hereditary with each child of those diagnosed at 50% risk of developing the disease. There is currently no cure.

It is estimated there is currently around 100 people living with HD in the Grampian area and up to 6000 potentially at risk across Scotland.

‘We are always grateful to the fantastic people who commit themselves to raise much needed funds to help us help families living with HD. Big thanks to Calum and everyone involved in organising the event and those who gave so generously,’ said SHA Community Fundraiser, Gemma Powell.

Anyone interested in fundraising for the SHA should contact Gemma on 0141 848 0308 who would be happy to assist.


Picture shows (LtoR): SHA supporter Jenna Richie, North east referees’ President Calum Spence and his fiancé Julie Crabb at the Huntington’s disease fundraiser.

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